Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where am I again?

The first time the Handsome Australian and I traveled to the USA together, we were on our way to a family wedding. The Handsome Australian had managed to get a bit of time off of work and so we thought we'd make a bit of a holiday out of it. So instead of heading straight to Texas for the wedding, we stopped over for a few days in Las Vegas.

I'd been to Las Vegas several years earlier and had experienced the circus like atmosphere and the over-the-top architecture and decor of the various casinos. The Handsome Australian had never been to Vegas. This was his first time and it was very interesting to see this unique American city through his eyes.

The first thing he noticed was the people. He said, "I didn't expect there to be so many people here. I can't get over the crowds." I thought that was a bit of an odd observation, I mean this was Vegas--it's a tourist destination. Of course there are going to be lots of people around.

Then the Handsome one said, "I can't get over how many Americans are here. It's weird." Did he just say it was weird there were so many Americans here? I'm starting to think he's a bit weird. I promptly informed him that, in case the 14 hour flight, the clearing of customs in Los Angeles and the new stamps in his passport weren't clear enough, we were indeed in America. Then I asked him who he had expected to see in Vegas? If not Americans, then who? He told me that he thought there would be more international tourists.

Most of the major Australian cities have one large casino. Just one. In Vegas there were dozens and dozens. I was living in Melbourne when they finished building the casino here and it was a big deal. People couldn't believe how big it was and what a massive entertainment complex accompanied it. When we went down to check it out one day, I realised that like many other things before it, it was big by Australian standards...not by my standards (I'm from Texas, don't forget). So you can imagine the awe of the Handsome Australian when he found dozens upon dozens of casinos of the same size as the "massive" one in Melbourne, lining the streets of Vegas. He simply couldn't get his head around it.

Neither the Handsome Australian nor I are big gamblers, so we spent our time in Vegas going from casino to casino checking out the decor. The Handsome Australian couldn't get over how fake everything was and how much he felt they were trying to channel the feeling of Europe. He finally surmised that this is where Americans must come to instead of Europe. Why would you need to go to Europe when you have the Eiffel Tower, and the Canals of Venice just a short walk from the Statue of Liberty. Only in Vegas.

I often think back to that trip each time I arrive in the USA after a year away (we tend to visit once a year). When I arrive in the Los Angeles Airport, I am always struck immediately by the multitude of people around me. I always wonder where the crowds have come from. There are suddenly so many people everywhere. There is rarely anywhere in Melbourne that ever feels this busy.

The next thing I notice is that they are all American. All I can hear is American accents everywhere. Much like the Handsome Australian was in Vegas, I am surprised. It just seems odd to hear so many American accents. I guess it's because my ear has become accustomed to hearing the Australian accent now.

It's an odd feeling, culture shock on your own turf, but I'd say that's exactly what this is...

1 comment:

Annelise said...

Oh my! Please tell the Handsome Australian we do not go to Vegas to get our Europe fix...we go to Europe for that!
Vegas is a themed based city. It is a place to find the 7 deadly sins in one convenient location, not a place to find the beuaty of Italy, France, Greece, etc...
Granted I know you know this...but sometimes you, my American frined, need pointers of what your homeland is! As for the airport...yeah they always suck and are crowded especially LAX, Chicago O'Hare and Vegas one.
I love you my American friend who once had an American accent, but then got an Argentine accent, but not has an Aussie accent. It's all good!